Torbay Velopark, situated on the south coast of Devon has not only recently celebrated its first birthday, but boasts a unique course, taking part on the track of a velopark. We talk to Jo Canham, one of the Run Directors at Torbay Velopark parkrun to find out more about this south westerly event…
Ten years ago my greatest achievements were finishing Nijmegen Marches, New York Marathon and several London MoonWalks, but when tragedy struck my family I gave up running.
I decided it was time to get my fitness back and a friend told me about parkrun coming to Torbay, so I turned up at event number two. I loved it, everybody was so supportive without a trace of judgement of my speed. Unfortunately two chest infections and shin splints stopped me from taking part, so I switched to volunteering and I haven’t looked back.
I decided to become a Run Director with the hope of inspiring others and to show people that everyone is welcome at parkrun, just like I was. parkrun could be the first step in a journey to fitness, or a great way to spend time with friends and family at the start of the weekend.
At Torbay Velopark our course is quite unique. We are fortunate enough to be able to share the Velopark so we start with two laps of this ultra smooth cycle track followed by a lap of the field. Unfortunately, due to the recent weather the field is currently more of a swimming pool/water feature so we have been doing 3 laps of the velopark and a short section on the field!
For a course based around a velopark, we have a hidden gem of a hill hidden behind some trees in Wilbraham’s field (more on him later). This hill is located through an avenue of a trees and is a ‘wonderful’ surprise to see it just when you think the finish line is wonderfully near. Although I’m sure some would see it as a mere pimple!
Torbay Leisure Centre has a lovely cafe for a post-parkrun brew and results processing or sometimes we head over to the Cantina in Youngs Park as they have a wider choice of menu and is a great place to put the world to rights.
Wilbrahams’s field was mentioned earlier on and is named after Event Director Steve Wilbraham, who was instrumental in bringing parkrun to Torbay. As the Event Director, and sharing the role of Run Director with Simon Gilboy, we are very grateful for the time they both put in to keep our parkrun the great event that it continues to be.
Throughout my time as Run Director, I have spoken to several parkrunners who although might have been nervous to start with, welcomed parkrun as a non-competitive, supportive and fun place to start their fitness goals. It is great to see them coming back time and time again, smiling at the finish and proud of their achievement.
For anyone who is thinking of taking part in a bit of parkrun tourism, I would obviously have to say our event is the best! We are very fortunate to have a regular core team of volunteers so the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. The six Run Directors each bring something different to the role and we have regular meetings and all work extremely well together.
I can’t remember what I used to do on a Saturday but a weekend just isn’t right unless is starts with parkrun.
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My parkrun barcode identifies me as A1562206, my best friend who runs ahead of me calls me Paul, the two conscripts I drag and cajole around the course know me as “Dad”. However, after every 10 or 12 parkruns I volunteer, and on those days I am known to most parkrunners as “Shouty Bearded…
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